Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lebanese murders Bureau de Change Operator over $50,000 in Lagos

                                   The Lebanese killer                      The victim being rolled into the theatre after the incident
Culled from Vanguard
35-year-old Ali Sani, a bureau de change operator in Apapa area of Lagos, least envisaged the tragedy that loomed ahead,  penultimate Monday,  as he set for his office. Like every other bureau de change operator, Ali called on passers-by to patronise him, in his hard currency  changing business.
Later that day, a telephone call, which signaled the beginning of the end of  Ali, came in with  the caller requesting for fifty thousand dollars. The call, according to his colleagues, came as an answered prayer for the  Kano State born operator  who, reportedly, rallied round to make up the amount. But, unknown to him, the caller had a sinister motive.

This was  confirmed as report was received later by Ali’s  colleagues that he was lying in a  pool of his own  blood inside a hotel on  Marine Road, Apapa. Sadly, as you read this piece, the remains of the bureau de change operator, who hailed from Rimi town  in Sumalia local government area of Kano State, are lying six feet beneath the earth.

How he met his death
The caller, a 25-year-old  Lebanese, identified as  Bilal, as gathered, invited Ali to the hotel. Immediately he stepped inside the hotel room , the Lebanese allegedly requested for the dollars which the deceased  gave to him. But instead of giving the bureau de change operator  the naira equivalent,  four men were said to have emerged from  the toilet.

Before he  could fathom what was wrong, one of the men  landed a stick on  his head, causing him to fall.
In that state, the kingpin, Bilal, reportedly brought out a knife from his pocket and stabbed Ali in the neck, head, eyes and shoulder. Apprehension  set in after Bilal rushed out of the hotel room with blood stained shirt, attempting  to leave the hotel. But he was prevented by security  guards. A mild drama unfolded as the Lebanese reportedly brought out a knife threatening to stab whoever tried to block his way.

But for  the timely arrival of policemen from Apapa Division, led by the Divisional Police Officer, Mr  Mohammed Mu’azu, the Lebanese would have made good his threat or escaped. He was arrested alongside two Nigerians simply identified as Segun and Benjamin.

During investigation, Bilal told policemen that his other  two partners in crime had escaped. It was discovered that the fleeing suspects, both Lebanese , are father and son. A friend to the deceased bureau de change operator, one  Muhammed Lawal, revealed to Sunday Vanguard that he disecretly followed Ali to  the hotel that fateful day.

He narrated,  “ When the  Lebanese informed  him  that he would send his  driver  to come and pick him to the hotel where he lodged,  he told me to follow  him secretly  behind. They drove in a  Toyota Camry car.   When they arrived the hotel, I hid outside.

“I waited  for my friend to come outside  but he did not and that made me suspicious. I  dialed his number  but there was no response. Not   long thereafter, I saw one white man with blood stain all over his body.  He  wanted to escape but the security guards started  shouting for help. The shouts  alerted other people in the hotel. And that was what made me call our chairman and my  other colleagues that they should help call the police.

“Then, I approached the hotel gate and started hauling stones at the white man and shouting at the same time. In the process, I managed to grab him. When we followed him to the room he lodged in,  I saw my friend in a  pool of  his own  blood . And when the policemen conducted a search  of  the hotel room, they found  two other persons.”

The chairman of  the  bureau-de-change operators association, Mallam Garba Kano, who also spoke with Sunday Vanguard, revealed that Ali was rushed to three hospitals where he was rejected. According to him, “ when I got wind of the report, I  alerted the DPO Apapa who immediately rushed there with his men.  But for him, the suspects would have escaped. We first rushed Ali to  an  hospital where he was rejected.

“We later took him to Apapa health centre where again he was rejected. We took him to one other hospital where  the same thing happened. By then Ali was no longer  talking. He was in coma. We then rushed him to Lagoon  Hospital  where he was accepted and we were asked to pay N2.5 million as deposit. But we were able to deposit  N750,000 before treatment commenced. Unfortunately he died hours later.”

It was not as if Ali  went to meet the Lebanese just like that. His telephone number was given to the Lebanese by someone  the deceased bureau de change  knew very well at a supermarket. Garba  lamented that members of his association had been under  incessant attacks  from criminals who hide under different guise.
In the past, he said gun wielding men would storm the area, shooting  his  members  and making away with their monies in naira and foreign currencies. Sometimes, according to him, robbers would pose as bank customers, asking his members to meet them  at the bank. But on reaching the bank, the operator would be attacked and dispossessed of  his money. Some of  his members,  he said, ended up losing their lives . So far, he said four of his members had lost their lives.

Where is the money?
There  is, however, a twist in the whole matter as the fifty thousand dollars Ali reportedly took to the hotel was, at press time,  yet to be recovered. Out of the amount, only ten thousand dollars was recovered.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that when the prime suspect was arrested, a briefcase in which the hard currency was recovered  was taken from him and handed over to a police man. It could, however, not be ascertained if the briefcase contained the whole amount. But when asked, Bilal allegedly claimed he kept the money inside the briefcase.  This development  led to the arrest of the policeman.
Ali’s widow and three children left for Kano, on Wednesday,with the police still investigating the matter with a view to arresting  fleeing suspects.

Culled from Vanguard